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How to shrink a mailbox in Exchange 2003

Posted on 2011-09-29
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I am moving mailboxes from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 and have been getting a lot of problems with corrupted items so I have started backing up the contents of each 2003 mailbox to a pst file, then deleting all the mail from the 2003 mailbox and then moving it.

But what I've found is that even with the mail all deleted, the size of the mailbox is unchanged and takes a long time to move.

Is there a way to clean up the size of a mailbox after deleting all the mail inside it?

Thanks
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Question by:gateguard
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18 Comments
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:netjgrnaut
ID: 36815709
Dumb question - you're emptying the deleted items, right?

After that, you'll need to let the deleted item retention period expire.  Or shorten it.

Now you can run an offline defrag to reclaim *disk* space from the message store (if that's needed).  If you just want smaller mailboxes (not message store), then you should be looking at deleted items and deleted item retention only.

Here's a thread that discusses these topics in great detail...

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Server_Software/Email_Servers/Exchange/Q_23022639.html

Hope that helps!
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LVL 5

Accepted Solution

by:
bcapello earned 1000 total points
ID: 36815859
Check the amount of "Deleted Items" in the mailboxes.  In Exchange System Manager go to the mailbox list. You'll need to add the "Deleted Items" column. click 'View" at the menu bar and choose "Add/Remove Columns" choose "Deleted Items" in Available column list and add it to "Displayed Columns".  This will show you how much each mailbox has in their Dumpster.  But, when you move a mailbox you will lose all this data.  The easiest way to remove this data is to create a new 2003 mailbox DB and move the mailboxes to that new 2003 DB. then, move the mailboxes from the new 2003 DB to Exchange 2010.
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36816380
Am I allowed to have a 2nd 2003 mailbox db on an exchange 2003 standard machine?
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:bcapello
ID: 36816450
No. SE only allows for 1 mailbox DB.  You'll have to perform an offline defrag using ESEUTIL. steps found here http://support.microsoft.com/kb/328804
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:bcapello
ID: 36816460
Or you can just open the big mailboxes in Outlook and delete the dumpster items.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:netjgrnaut
ID: 36816582
If you're looking to reduce mailbox sizes, you'll need to empty the dumpster.  An offline defrag won't do that for you.

Moreover, you only need an offline defrag if you want to reduce *message store* size - not mailbox size.  Clearing the dumpster should take care of that.

(Though I'd probably do both to maximize performance, if I had the luxury of taking the message store offline for the defrag prior to executing the mailbox migrations.  But that's just me...)
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817296
I set the deleted items retention to 0 days and turned off "wait for a backup", but there are still 600,000 deleted items.

Can I just delete the mailbox and then recreate it for the same user... not delete the user, just the mailbox?

All her mail is backed up to a pst file.

Alternatively, does restarting the IS activate the 0 days retention time?  When should I realistically see those 600,000 deleted items gone.  (Looking at the ESM here.  There are ZERO items in the deleted folder in Outlook).

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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:bcapello
ID: 36817321
If you are going to recreate the mailbox, then why are you going to all the trouble with moving mailboxes.  Just create a fresh mailbox in Exchange 2010 and import mail from PSTs.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:netjgrnaut
ID: 36817361
Exactly what I was thinking...
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817376
bcapello, I actually didn't think of it.  And not that I think of it I like it but I'm worried about it.  First I have to delete the exchange 2003 mailbox without deleting the user, and I've never done that.  Problems?  No problems?

Secondly, when I go to create the new mailbox for an existing user on Exchange 2010 (which I've never done and don't know how to do offhand), is there a problem because that user previously had a mailbox?

These questions worry me, but I'm interested in what you've got to say on them.

Thanks
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:netjgrnaut
ID: 36817419
A consideration: you say user mail is backed up to PST, bit where is user mail flowing today? What are the users connected to today?

The remove mailbox/create mailbox proceedures are very straightforward, and there is no risk to the underlying user account. But if you don't redirect or mitigate mail flow, then run another PST export before the process, there's bound to be mail lost.  
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817491
yeah I guess that's why I'd rather move the mailbox than delete it... I don't want to lose any emails
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:bcapello
ID: 36817636
I would just try moving the mailboxes.  you'll lose all the deleted item retention when moving a mailbox. If it takes a long time - its probably due to the item count being so high.  I would let the move run overnight.  How many mailboxes are we talking about?  How many have large item counts?
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817666
Item counts
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Author Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817760
I really wish I could just purge those deleted items.

Retention time is set to 0 and no backup required.

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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:netjgrnaut
netjgrnaut earned 1000 total points
ID: 36817838
I don't have a 2003 mgmt console in front of me, but you should be able to manually run mailbox maintenance at the server node level to force the cleanup routine to execute.

Otherwise it will execute as scheduled (probably overnight, assuming that scheduled maintenance is enabled on the server and properly configured), and tomorrow you'll see the number you want.
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Author Closing Comment

by:gateguard
ID: 36817929
One of the user's deleted items is now shrinking.  It happened, I think, when I logged on to windows with that users account, ran outlook, then exited and logged off.  Looks like it triggered the cleanup.

I'll have the other users do the same.

Thanks for all your help.
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:bcapello
ID: 36817930
right click on the 'mailboxes' folder and choose "Run Cleanup Agent'.  That isn't an item count in the Deleted Items column.  that is 'size'. Good Luck.
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